A neighborhood near Chonnam National University in Gwangju is in the process of redevelopment. In this district, buildings are marked with spray-painted X’s, and words for an empty house (Korean:공가 gongga) signify the fate act as temporary tombstones for businesses and humble dwellings. The relocation/eviction process can be a protracted affair. It’s a waiting game for developers and the evictees. Developers are looking to create another high-rise apartment complex and must for all the families and businesses to relocate before the demo crews can move in. Families wait for the best compensation deal they can get.
Please keep this in mind when exploring a neighborhood in transition. Some people still live their lives to the best they can while in this transitory world. Worst case scenario, Residents are not likely going to appreciate having strangers infringe upon their dwellings. There might be feelings of guilt and shame involved with having to leave their long-time neighborhood. Using discretion (don’t go in big groups!) and a little common sense (don’t act like entitled jackasses!) will help in exploring the area unnoticed.
I’ll start with a place that just got demolished recently. This space was a former gas station and car wash that had been abandoned since at least 2015, probably earlier. After the business closed up, it was used as a parking lot. Evidence points to a person squatting in the upstairs office. Now it’s a hole in the ground. Luckily, my friend and I were able to wander around it once to document the insides.
Let’s go visit an old apartment building in the neighborhood. While there weren’t any artifacts like maps or Chinese calligraphy to take in, the building itself was fascinating to look at. It was a blast from the past. I will guess this two-story single apartment building was constructed in the 70’s. Calendars left behind informed us it was lived in until early 2018. The complex was tucked in a side street, making it difficult to get a good external photo.
Finally, check out this house we came upon on one of the many Sunday visits to this neighborhood. The house with a saggy roof was being repurposed while it awaited its fate. The backyard was being used as a garden, and a timid dog had free range of the entire space. We couldn’t figure out where the dog went. During our exploration, we came across two dog skulls. So, include dog graveyard as another function of this disused house.
My friend and I have visited this area two times and have always come across a new discovery. If there are any more fascinating findings, I’ll be sure to keep you updated.